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Milwaukee Rec celebrates award-winning transformations

An aerial view of a play area includes two brand-new tennis courts surrounded by freshly mowed grass and a colorful concrete play area next to a school.
Milwaukee Recreation

Based on visual evidence alone, Milwaukee Recreation could be quite pleased with its efforts to renovate Burnham and Green Bay playfields. But it was still nice to get further validation recently, as the Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association (WPRA) announced Milwaukee Rec as the winner of 2022 Park Design Awards.

Milwaukee Rec received the honor in two project categories: over $3 million and over $1 million. Both sites were part of the organization’s Dream, Build, Play Playfield Renovation project, which got its start back in 2014 as a 10-year process to improve playfields long overdue for a facelift.

The majority of the 52 playfields Milwaukee Rec operates across the city welcomed their first users sometime between 1920 and 1960. In almost every case, they went decades with no major upgrades. Although calling the Burnham and Green Bay projects “upgrades” seems reductive considering the breathtaking transformation. The Green Bay Playfield, which received the award in the “over $1 million” category, now has:

  • Upgraded basketball/tennis courts and kickball/football field
  • New playground equipment and an obstacle course
  • Painted play activities and a splash pad
  • New lighting, seating and shade structures
  • A picnic area and outdoor classroom
  • Increased green space and new plantings

Burnham Playfield received the award in the “over $3 million” category thanks to a series of improvements that include:

  • A synthetic-turf soccer field
  • A new playground and basketball courts
  • A user-operated splash pad
  • Shade trees and walking paths
  • Improved lighting and benches